Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Open spaces in Leeds spruced up with cash injection

As part of improving open green spaces in Leeds, three projects have just been awarded almost £400,000 to boost facilities and improve the areas for local communities.

Queen’s Park, Rodley Park, and a community garden in Woodhouse have been allocated funding to develop the areas through money that has come from housing developers as part of the open space improvement contributions they make on new developments.

Queen’s Park will receive an increase in its range of play facilities with the provision of two new play areas, one for toddlers and one for older children. Along with this, a new multi-use games area will be installed with new wider pathways across the park and additional tree planting and park furniture will also be provided. The project will cost just under £290,000 and will start on-site in the Spring.

Rodley Park will also undergo improvements this year including the removal and relaying of the pathways, new entrance gates to both entrances, drainage works, and the installation of new benches, picnic tables and bins. As part of the £77,217 project, the bowling green will be removed and remodelled to blend into the park landscape with new planning and footways.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“It is important that developers in the city, who do not, or are unable to provide sufficient open space as part of their development pay a financial contribution which can then be pooled with other monies and used to improve the quality and range of facilities at the city’s open spaces.

“These projects will make a big difference to the areas that are being refurbished and will give the communities further facilities to enjoy.

“Leeds is a very green city and therefore ensuring our open spaces are kept in good condition is a priority. I would like to thank the ward members in each ward for their continuing support.”

Works to create community gardens around Marlborough Towers in Woodhouse will also begin shortly as part of a project designed and co-ordinated by Groundwork Leeds. Two concrete areas will be ripped up and replaced by community gardens, including orchards of fruit trees and bushes, new furniture and timber planters. This project is funded by over £30k of developer contributions and with additional grant funding from the Groundwork Project Support Fund (£16k), GrantScape Caird Bardon Community Programme (£20k), West North West Homes Leeds (£20k) and Inner South Area Committee Well Being Fund (£6k).

Notes to editors:

The council has collected almost £12 million from housing developers over the last 10 years. This money has been invested in a wide range of improvement projects from woodland planting, new paths and park furniture such as bins and benches, new play areas, skate parks, playing pitch drainage and hard surfaced games areas.

Developer contributions can only be spent on certain projects. They are secured by a legal agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) between the local planning authority and developer. Developer financial contributions are often referred to as S106 monies.

All waste that goes to landfill is subject to Landfill Tax. A percentage of this levy can be used to fund environmental and community projects through the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF). The Caird Bardon Community Programme was, therefore, established in 2007, enabling Caird Bardon Limited to work in partnership with GrantScape, who manage and administer the grant programme on their behalf.

The Caird Bardon Community Programme supports projects delivering significant environmental benefits and providing new and better community amenities. To be eligible for a grant, projects must be located in Leeds Metropolitan District Wards.

The Programme has approximately £350,000 available per annum, and there are two rounds each year. Grants are available for amounts between £5,000 and £60,000.

For full details about the Caird Bardon Community Programme, please see:

For further details about Caird Bardon Limited, please see:
Liz Payne
Grant Manager, Caird Bardon Community Programme
Tel: 01282 603842

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Keeping warm and well during winter

With the cold weather set to stay for a few more days, Leeds City Council is offering advice to help keep people warm and well and reduce fuel bills.

People may be too concerned about energy costs to turn on their heating or their home may be in need of an energy efficient makeover to ensure it stays cosy.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for health and well being said:

“One of the best ways to keep well during winter is to keep warm, but we know that this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. By following this simple advice or by taking advantage of the services available, we can help prevent people developing illnesses that may exacerbate existing health conditions.

“I’d also urge people to check elderly or vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours throughout any cold snap to make sure they’re keeping warm and well.”

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Being able to heat your home effectively won’t just keep you well, it could have a really big impact on your wallet too. The services on offer won’t just have a positive impact on people’s health, we hope it will lift them out of fuel poverty.”

As cold homes can have a significant impact on people’s health, the council is offering this advice:

  • Having hot meals and hot drinks will help you to keep warm.
  • Check the weather forecast and make sure you have enough prescription medicines in case you’re unable to collect or have them delivered during severe weather.
  • The flu is much more serious than a cold and can lead to a hospital stay for those who are vulnerable. If you’re over 65, suffer from a severe medical condition, in long-term care, care for a vulnerable person or are pregnant, you may be entitled to a free flu jab. Contact your surgery to find out more.
  • Make sure you can check the temperature in your living room and bedroom. If possible, have a simple thermometer or set your heating controls to the right temperature. To keep warm and healthy, your living room should be around 21oC and your bedroom 18oC.
  • Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer as this can trap the heat more effectively.
  • Cover yourself with a blanket or shawl if you are sitting for long periods and put your feet up if you can as the air is colder near the floor.
  • Tuck curtains behind radiators as this will keep heat in the room.
  • Keep moving if you can and try not to sit still for more than one hour.
The council and its partners are also offering extra help to vulnerable residents.

Wrap Up Leeds+ offers homeowners and private tenants in Leeds grants and interest free loans for a broad range of energy efficiency home improvements such as insulation, heating and double glazing (subject to survey).

Contact the team on 0800 052 0071 or visit

The Warm Homes Service from Care & Repair can provide repairs to heating systems and repair or replace broken boilers in vulnerable homes. They can also provide gas fires, additional radiators and boiler servicing for a limited period. This is available to homeowners or private tenants.

Contact Care & Repair on 0113 391 8336 or

The Green Doctor (run by Groundwork) provides basic energy efficiency improvements including door and window draught-proofing, reflective radiator panels, pipe lagging and other devices. Green Doctor also provides practical, face-to-face advice on reducing energy bills.

Contact 0113 238 0601 or

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provides a range of advice including help with benefit checks, applications and appeals, along with advice about utilities including issues with fuel and bills.

Contact Leeds CAB on 0844 4774788 or or Chapeltown CAB on 0844 4774788 or 0113 262 9479.

St George’s Crypt will be operating an accommodation hub for homeless and rough sleepers providing temporary accommodation and longer-term housing advice.

Contact Leeds Housing Options Team on 0113 222 4412 for further information.

Tenants of social housing providers experiencing problems with their heating should contact their ALMO or Housing Association repairs team.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


Game fair organisers are fair game for unauthorised signs

Event organisers put themselves in the sights of enforcement officers for placing unauthorised signs by the road side.

In April 2012, David Read Ltd complied with a notice issued by the council to remove illegally placed placards and banners. Attached to road signs in Boston Spa and Wetherby, the signs advertised a local game fair.

However, less than a month later complaints were received that similar boards and banners advertising the same event had appeared on Spofforth Hill and High Street in Wetherby.

It is illegal to attach such advertising to road signs and street lights without prior permission from the council.

As the company had already been served a legal notice under Section 132 of the Highways Act 1980 yet still committed further offences, David Read Ltd were prosecuted.

The case was heard before magistrates last week. The company was found guilty for both breaches of the law and fined £500, ordered to pay £748.08 and a £15 victim surcharge.

Unauthorised signs at the side of the road can distract drivers, cover legitimate road signs and clutter up the street making them look unattractive.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy said:

“This is not a trivial matter. Unauthorised adverts aren’t just an eyesore, they have the potential to cause a hazard if they block the view of drivers and pedestrians trying to go about their daily business safely. Where people are jeopardising the safety of our residents, we will take action.”

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“We don’t have a problem with events trying to attract visitors, but this has to be done in such a way that keeps Leeds safe, clean and green.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


Private landlord fined after disregarding tenants safety

A negligent landlord in Leeds has been fined £2800 and ordered to pay costs of £2993 plus a £15 victim surcharge, after failing to comply with an improvement notice.

Mr Rajinder Singh Digwa failed to carry out essential maintenance works on a privately rented home. He continually disregarded the safety of his tenant by neglecting to install a hard wired alarm and a fire door. Mr Digwa additionally failed to provide an electrical safety certificate for the property.

The tenant was also left without a functioning boiler for four months, whilst he awaited Mr Digwa to organise a repair.
Mr Digwa pleaded guilty at Bradford Magistrates Court, earlier this week.

The Council were alerted to these issues by the tenant, who had previously informed the landlord of the serious state of disrepair within the property. Officers from Leeds City Council’s Housing Regulation Team attempted to contact Mr Digwa on numerous occasions via telephone and letter regarding the essential works required. Mr Digwa failed to respond to these requests.

An inspection of the property was carried out by the Council, identifying a number of shortcomings, including inadequate fire precautions, mould and electrical hazards. These shortcomings were considered a serious risk to the health and safety of the tenant.

Improvement notices were served for these hazards on in October 2011 for the works to be completed by January 2012. Works were undertaken in early January 2013, almost 12 months later.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“Tenants have a right to live in a property free from danger to their health and safety. The Council works with private landlords to help improve their properties and will only serve legal notices when all other options have failed.

“I hope this case will send a clear message to private landlords. They are obliged to fulfil their responsibilities and failure to do so will result in their successful prosecution.

Disregarding the law by placing tenants in dangerous living conditions is not only unacceptable but entirely illegal.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Rhianne Cutts,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 224 3937

New housing support service for people with mental health needs

A new housing support service for people with mental health needs in the city has been developed.

The service is set to go live from April 2013 with the process of referrals being much simpler with one single point of access through a new Community Links Hub.

The new service will support people to:

- obtain and manage safe and stable housing and resolve housing problems

- take up training, employment and volunteering opportunities

- develop support networks, through befriending and peer support to overcome isolation and feel more involved.

Following a tender exercise, a new contract is being awarded to a local consortium of voluntary sector organisations who have a track record of providing good quality housing support services for people in Leeds. The consortium is led by Community Links in partnership with Touchstone; Leeds MIND, Leeds Irish Health and Homes, St Anne’s and Leeds Federated Housing Association.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“The new service has a strong focus on helping people to recover and live independently. It will provide high quality housing related support to improve the health and well-being of individuals and will play a key role in helping people settle back in the community after a period in hospital.

“We undertook a full review of all the housing support services the council commissions for people with mental health needs across the city and have consulted widely with service users and partners to ensure we provide a new service that will work well for all parties.”

Jon Woolmore, Community Links chief executive said:

“We are delighted to be able to continue to provide support to service users with mental health needs across the city. Community Links will run the service through a consortium arrangement with 5 other well established, Leeds based charities/not-for-profit agencies. The improved service will see better access alongside a real focus on increasing people’s confidence and independence through volunteering, education and employment.”

Paul Frazer a service user representative on the project group said:

“I feel confident that the new city wide support service will help make it easier for people to access the service. It was great to be involved in the work that was undertaken by the council in getting this new service.”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450